David Fair - Ballets

3LP Edition of 200. Numbered. Silk-Screen Covers by Monoroid


Subtitled Dance Like This, this set retrieves the long-lost solo debut by David Fair (half of the original Half Japanese). Made up of six side-long loops, the record is hypnotic and beautiful. Rather than blather on further, we decided to do a short interview with the artist himself. Here ’tis.

when did you get the idea for this album?

I don’t remember what year it was, but I think it was after Charmed Life was recorded but before it came out. It might have been between Half Gentlemen / Not Beasts and Loud. Jad had done a little solo project called Zombies of Mora Tau. The group of ballets was going to be my first solo project. It was going to be released on the 50,000,000,000,000,000 Watts label, but the label folded up before the release date. 

when and where was it recorded?

It was recorded in a studio that Jad and I had set up in Uniontown, Maryland. We had two 4-track reel-to-reel tape recorders. Maybe it was one 4-track and one 2-track. I don’t remember for sure. This was a lifetime ago, at the end of the 1970s or the beginning of the 1980s. We stapled egg cartons to the walls and ceiling which sucked the sound right out of the air. Jad engineered the recordings and I made the noises and decided what to do with them.

what instruments were used?

The sounds were made by recording a short passage of sound on a loop of tape and then adding reverb and echo effects. The track would be played just like that on one track. The next track would be the same loop but at a slower speed. More tape was added to the loop and the tape was sent down a long hallway and into another room. That long tape at regular speed was track three, and a slowed down version was track four.

The finished songs would have elements that would go in and out of sync with each other. Most of them were gentle soft pieces that made me think of ballerinas, so soon I realized that I was making ballets. The instruments were whatever was in the room that would make a small yet pretty musical phrase. I used a marimba, a snare drum, a spinning quarter, rolling marbles, torn paper and a guitar.

were there dances created for the pieces?

There never were actually dancers performing them anywhere but in my head. My favorite teacher in college was one that I had for filmmaking and silk-screening classes. Her main job there was teaching dance. I had in mind that as soon as the records came out I would send them to her and my hope was that she would make them into real dances. I loved the idea of dancers in their frilly tutus gliding around the stage to these songs. Originally each piece was about 30 minutes long, but they have been cut back now to ensure the highest quality of reproduction. I would love to have professional dance troupes or amateur dancers or little school children, or anyone at all who might be inspired, move around to these sounds. I would love it if people would make their own videos dancing around in costumes. I would also love it if people didn’t feel like filming them, but maybe they would turn the lights down low in their parent’s basements and play these songs at teen parties. Or maybe there is someone who puts these songs on and dances alone in front of a mirror while everyone else in the house is asleep. 

you sent phil milstein some of these loops to use with uzi?

I had forgotten that, but I believe it to be true. Over the years I have sent things to Phil and he has sent things to me. Sometimes the only purpose is sharing something that you think a friend might like to hear. But in this case, it might well have been for him to use any way he could in his band. At the time that these songs were recorded, I had never heard anything else like them. Nowadays anyone who understands the half-witted GarageBand could probably make similar songs in an afternoon. At the time that they were made they seemed like the sort of songs that might cause a person to close their eyes and imagine things. That would be a wonderful use for them, but if dancers were actually performing them, then all the listener would have to do is watch. There would be no thinking involved. Just look and listen and be carried away.